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Ploughing a Furrow to Zion: Fostering Ideals and Identities through the Agricultural Training of European Jewish Youth - A Case Study of the Bachad Movement 1928-1962

Citation: Steele, Verity (2017) Ploughing a Furrow to Zion: Fostering Ideals and Identities through the Agricultural Training of European Jewish Youth - A Case Study of the Bachad Movement 1928-1962. Masters thesis, University of London.

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The little-known and largely undocumented religious Zionist youth movement, Brit Chalutzim Dati’im - The Alliance of Religious Pioneers (acronym, Bachad) - was founded in Germany in 1928. It was a response by Orthodox Jews to the challenges of the modern era: increased assimilation, antisemitism, and the rise of secular Zionism. The movement sought to train young Jewish men and women in agriculture and religious Zionist ideals with the aim of them making aliyah (emigrating) to Eretz Israel. To this end, it established hachsharah (training) farms, firstly in pre-WW2 Germany, but also in neighbouring countries. Agricultural training enabled many young chalutzim (pioneers) to gain emigration certificates and thus evade Nazi terror. The hachsharah farms established in Britain following the watershed of Kristallnacht provided many Kindertransport refugees, and later, survivors of Nazi concentration camps, with a safe haven within supportive communities. Bachad’s British hachsharah farms continued to operate until 1962, when the Bachad Farm Institute, Thaxted, Essex closed. By this time, agricultural training was readily accessible in Israel. A close examination of the Thaxted farm through primary sources and interviews with former Bachad members provided the opportunity to examine the role of Zionist ideals, relative to other influences, upon the fostering of individual and corporate identities. Whilst most Bachad members identified fully with the movement’s aims and made aliyah, for some, the pathway was not so ‘ideal’. The study raises further important questions relating to the origins and development of this small, but significant movement which are worthy of future exploration.

Creators: Steele, Verity and
Subjects: History
Divisions: Institute of Historical Research
Collections: Theses and Dissertations
Dissertation
Dates:
  • 1 September 2017 (accepted)

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